Where to on a Friday night? Something casual but fun is in order, somewhere where The Boyfriend and I can just wind down and have a relaxed dinner together after another busy, busy week. A quick skim through the Entertainment Book reveals that there are offers in there for a lot of our favourite restaurants, including Chef’s Gallery at Town Hall!
You’ve probably all seen this place on your way down George St, with its large glass panes that stretch across the walls and allow passerbys to see the dumpling chefs at work.
Susan Kurosawa of The Australian describes Chef’s Gallery’s dumplings as “small parcels of absolute pleasure”, and they really are quite delectable. This place is a little pricier than your average Shanghainese dumpling and noodle bar, but it’s well worth it if you’re after a chic and sophisticated place with great tasting dishes and a unique dining experience. (If you’re after something a little more casual, I highly recommend Taste of Shanghai, where you can usually also see ‘dumpling aunties’ making xiao long bao).
- Prawn and pork wonton noodles in a Shangainese style spicy sauce.
- Spinach noodles wok fried with seafood and dried prawn roe.
- Shredded Peking duck with cucumber and hoisin sauce rolled inside a fluffy Chinese roti.
I love these spicy noodles, and I order them every time I go to Chef’s Gallery! Both the noodles and wontons are freshly made (before your eyes if you choose to sit at the bar), and it reminds me a lot of the xiangla banmian (literally, fragrant spicy noodles) that I used to eat in Beijing.
The spinach noodles were also very fresh and they were just the right amount of chewy. I think The Boyfriend really liked this dish, but I found it a little oily and rather salty as well. It just didn’t have the bite or combination of interesting flavours that the spicy noodle dish had.
We both really enjoyed the Peking duck roti, which really was just like Peking duck, but covered in a deliciously flaky roti instead of the normal thin pancake. The cucumbers were crisp and sweet, and the duck succulent, and it tasted wonderful topped with a little bit of this dried chilli flake oil, which I’m a big fan of:
Funny how even in a modern Chinese restaurant in Sydney, the service is similar to a genuine China experience. We ordered the duck roti as an entree even though it looked really filling, because their dessert menu doesn’t have much to offer (the silken tofu soup is mediocre, and while the black sesame ice-cream is lovely, it’s not anything spectacular) – but it was actually the last dish to be served, after we had finished all our noodles.
That’s so typical of a dining experience in China that it was actually quite endearing in a funny way. It reminded me of all those times in Beijing when I got served rice last after we’d consumed dish after salty or spicy dish, or be given our side dish of picked cabbage long after we’d finished our bowls of wonton soup.
I miss China, I really do!
» Chef’s Gallery is located at 12/501 George Street Sydney NSW 2000, (02)9267 8877